Wednesday, September 5, 2007

More on the wild, wild west...

This is going to be yet another post about taiko, or Japanese drums. In case you didn't know, taiko is a huge part of my life; I spend as much time with my taiko group, Arashi Daiko, as I do with my family. Probably more. Yup, more. My husband is a member of the same group, which is great, otherwise I'd never see him in the summer since we are constantly rehearsing and performing. Last month was the biennial (this means every two years , and not twice a year, right?) North American Taiko Conference, this time taking place at the University of Washington, in beautiful Seattle.

Backtrack a couple of days to Nanaimo where I had a great visit with my oldest brother and his family; this was after being in Vancouver and the great visit with my second brother and his family. And my sister had surprised me by showing up in Vancouver with her family as well. Nice, or what?

Whenever I leave my siblings out west, I cry. I try to control it when I feel the good-bye is getting closer, but I cannot seem to keep my chin from wobbling and that durn lump in my throat from forming. With my sister there too, it was a veritable weep-fest. I'm just a weepin' fool - sounds like a country song.

Took the ferry from West Vancouver to Vancouver Island, which is one of the loveliest places I have ever been. Nanaimo, where my brother, Ron, lives with his family, is a beautiful place to live, not too big or small, looking out onto the ocean.

Take a look at these photos and say you don't agree. Below, walking with bro and niece, Emily.

I once again had to summon some much-needed help from my family, preparing stock to be express-shipped to the taiko conference.

Sigh. Will this girl ever learn? Here I am at 2am, making some last, last, last-minute mini-drums, that were made into cell phone charms and earrings.

Took the ferry from Victoria on Vancouver Island to downtown Seattle. Highlight: seal on a buoy, sorry no photo. I'm easily amused/impressed/entertained whenever there are animals involved. Got this from my mom, I'm sure.

So nice to see old friends at the taiko conference. Taiko people are warm, energetic, friendly, passionate and generous. That may sound like quite a generalization, but I challenge you to go to any North American city that has a taiko group(s), track down the group, let them know you love taiko, or you play taiko, and either they will invite you to their practice or invite you out to lunch after practice - a taiko player's favourite thing to do, second to playing taiko of course, is EATING.

Proof, we take photos of our most gorgeous meals: this is JF's chirashi at a Seattle resto.

I won't go into all the details of what happened but my shipment of handmade goodies prepared for this taiko crowd was held up at the border so on the first day of the two and a half day long conference I had an empty table, put on my best smile, and said "Pleeeeeeeze come back tomorrow, I swear I'll have something to sell." My back had cramped up from all the worry. Long story short, my shipment arrived in time for me to sell much of my stock on the remaining day and a half. If it were not for the help of my favourite conference volunteers, Keith and Tyler, the steady leak in my brain would likely have gushed and my helmet would have been full of grey matter muck (don't ask).

Saw some inspiring taiko peformances, and even got to play a little, yay! Here we are on the last morning, and an outdoor jam session. That's me and Hisako, who was 6 months pregnant when this was taken; she is in incredible shape, wouldn't you say? Yumi is standing in the back in the orange top, looking thrilled.

Taiko jam at 8:30 am Sunday morning, U. of Washington campus - wakey, wakey!

And here is the unstoppable and unsinkable Molly K., who is truly an inspiration to us all. She is 80 years young and still playing taiko, so I really can't complain that I started playing too late in life, nine years ago at the age of 31.

I want to be just like Molly when I grow up.

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